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850 co-operative teachers rendered jobless

Karachi, July 31: About 850 co-operative teachers will be rendered jobless after the induction of the National Internship Programme (NIP) announced by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, as approximately 23,000 fresh graduates have been appointed in various city colleges at an initial salary of Rs10,000.

Co-operative teachers who were given monthly payments between Rs3000 to 4000 were appointed on a contractual basis, which started last year in September and were relieved during the summer vacation.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has approved the launch of the NIP under which all those who have completed 16 years of education in the last two years from an institute recognised by the Higher Education Commission was offered an internship and paid a stipend of Rs10,000 per month by the government for one year. The NIP was introduced to provide relief to the country's educated youth and help them in their search for employment.

For the college session which was scheduled to start on August 16, these co-operative teachers were asked to give their services free of cost but their stipend starts from September. The co-operative teachers - without objecting to the appointment of internship - said it was a good step by the government, but it did not make an allowance for those co-operative teachers who were giving their service to colleges in times of need for a meagre amount of Rs4000.

They were unable to qualify for the prime minister's internship programme as they got their postgraduate degrees three years before. This is despite the fact that all these teachers specialised in subjects such as Economics, Statistic and General History.

The crisis has become worse because the Sindh Public Service Examinations have not been conducted since the last three years. The last exams were held in 2004, the results of which were declared null and void by the Chief Minster on the pretext of corruption, as reported.

Due to the shortage of teaching staff in various colleges, the government appointed these teachers with the understanding that they would be released during the summer vacation. Later, they were promised that their services would be regularised but to their dismay, the NIP has stated in no uncertain terms that soon after the summer vacation, the college management will summon these teachers to discontinue with their services.

This time when the co-operative teachers approached the college administration, they were told that they would only be called when needed. Many teachers have not even been paid since last October, said affectees of the Government Girls Degree College, Landhi Industrial Area. About five co-operative teachers including one male teacher were denied salaries last October. When they approached the Regional Director of the college - Badr Munawwar- she told them that they should hunt jobs elsewhere as the college was short of funds and could not afford to pay salaries to them.

The college was established in 2004 in this far-flung area. Interestingly enough, another college, the Metroville Girls Degree College which also hired co-operative teachers, said the same thing to its teachers. To overcome this problem, the college enlisted the services of Ideal Future Foundation (IFS) - an NGO - through which the college teachers were appointed.

The IFC got forms filled by the co-operative teachers and asked for Rs3000 from each one of them, assuring an insurance policy with medical and job security. The teachers paid the amount with the hope that they would have not to move pillar to post for their salaries. Much to their dismay, however, the NGO did not return what it had promised after it pocketed the money.

The co-operative teachers also submitted an application to the then Education Minister, Hamida Khuro, and had a meeting with her. She, in turn, promised to resolve the issue and referred it to the Provincial College Manager. The latter refused to look into the matter, saying that they could neither be appointed as adhoc teachers nor could they be regularised.

The teachers also demonstrated in front of the Sindh Secretariat but to no avail. Khuro, who is now the Education Minister for Colleges, could not be contacted as she has been out of the country for the last one month. At present, there are four types of teachers working in colleges: regular, adhoc, co-operative and internees. The news

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